[20 August/Otago Daily Times]

According to ASB Senior Rural Economist, Nathan Penny, a weakened New Zealand dollar is boosting commodity prices in local terms. The Commodity Price Index had lifted 8.3 percent annually in New Zealand terms. Fonterra dropped its forecast from $6.75 per kilogram of milk solids to $6.70. Mr Penny noted the Chinese Yuan had been even weaker than the NZD recently. Horticulture continued to be a strong performer. Annual wine exports were now valued at more than $1.7 billion. BNZ Senior Economist, Doug Steel, said apple exports continued to perform strongly, building on the success of recent years. Further growth was expected. Sheepmeat exports had also increased in the last 18 months and were up more than a quarter in the past year alone. It was a big growth sector, helped by higher prices. Wool exports were close to recent lows despite volumes lifting nearly 20 percent in the last year.